The ABCs Of Aereo: Future of TV & Internet At Stake In Battle With Broadcasters, Says Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia

Editors Note: This is the last of three Deadline posts that lay out the issues in the Aereo case, which Deadline Legal Editor Dominic Patten will cover from the Supreme Court next week. Today: An interview with Aereo CEO Chet Kanojia.

Previous ABCs Of Aereo Reports:
What Is Aereo And Why Are Broadcasters Taking It To Supreme Court?
Aereo Wants “Something For Nothing”, Former U.S. Lawyer Says

Aereo Supreme CourtBroadcasters challenged Aereo‘s legality almost from the moment in early 2012 when it launched in NYC. It is a David and Goliath contest: the tiny, Barry Diller-backed streaming service defending itself against attacks from CBS, Disney, Fox, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal among other companies as well as the federal government’s Office of the Solicitor General. The plaintiffs say Aereo steals their property by selling their over-the-air programming without paying them. They liken it to a cable or satellite distributor and say that it packages channels and then redistributes them — in legal terms creating a public performance that, since it isn’t authorized by the broadcasters, violates the “transmit clause” of the Copyright Act of 1976. But Bloomberg Panel & Reception - 2012 Tribeca Film FestivalAereo CEO and founder Chet Kanojia says there’s no violation. He simply leases to consumers the antennas and technologies they need to privately exercise their right to watch broadcast signals for free. He sees next week’s Supreme Court hearing as a fight for his company, as well as a struggle to protect public control of the airwaves, and consumers’ ability to harness the power of the Internet.

DEADLINE: Barry Diller has said that if you guys lose at the Supreme Court, it’s basically game over. Are you turning off the lights if the Supreme Court rules against you?
KANOJIA: It’s going to depend on what the nature of the scope of the conclusions from the Supreme Court happens to be. If it’s a straight up, wipeout loss — and the Supreme Court shows the 2nd Circuit’s analysis of the transmit laws and, as a result, the idea was private performance is incorrect — then it will be very difficult for Aereo to be in business. For us, along with a lot of other companies that buy DVRs or cloud solutions, it will be a very difficult climate for sure. One result may very well be that we cease to operate.

Related: Barry Diller Says Aereo WIll Be “Finished” If It Loses Supreme Court Case: Video

DEADLINE: What if it goes in your favor?
KANOJIA: It’ll mean business as usual for everybody. I think the broadcasters will continue to grow and succeed. I think Aereo will continue to sell to consumers who don’t consume broadcast TV from cable or satellite but use antennas or are not part of the system. Then I think overall the pie will continue to grow.

DEADLINE: What do you think the broadcasters will do if they lose?
KANOJIA: Oh, they’re going to come back for a Round 2. They may go to Congress. The strategy of this industry is, “Let’s litigate, legislate. And if you can’t figure that out, then see how to make money from basic knowledge.” Read More »

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UPDATE: ESPN Can Generate Steady Profit Growth Through 2016 CFO Tells Wall Street

By | Thursday April 17, 2014 @ 2:06pm EDT

espnUPDATED: Following CEO Bob Iger’s lead,  Disney CFO Jay Rasulo won’t break out financial numbers for ESPN. But he strongly hints that its financial prospects are rosy by offering a few projections for Disney’s cable networks, which are dominated by ESPN. He tells investors to expect high single digit annual growth in revenues from pay TV distributors through 2016, and a similar growth rate for operating income. He’s confident about these projections because Disney has programming deals with eight of the 10 largest pay TV distributors, with the remaining two due by year end. In addition, most of its contracts with sports leagues last for years. The company won’t project ad sales but says ESPN has strong pricing power.

PREVIOUS, 11:06 AM: Disney’s dumping a lot of data about ESPN this afternoon to ease Wall Street fears that the company’s cash cow could face leaner times due its rising costs and new competition from channels led by Fox Sports 1. CEO Bob Iger kicked off today’s investor meeting in Bristol, Conn vowing that he’s going to continue to invest” in ESPN which he sees as core to his strategy to build brands and franchises. Disney doesn’t break out financial numbers for the channel, but he noted that the company’s pay TV networks account for 32% of its revenues — and 56% of its operating income. President John Skipper and other ESPN execs Read More »

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Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer Made $24.9M In 2013, -31.9%

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 5:31pm EDT

Marissa Mayer 2It would have been obscene if Yahoo had matched the $35M in stock awards it gave Marissa Mayer in 2012 to woo her over from Google. So her total compensation was down for 2013 the company’s latest proxy shows, even though all of the components aside from stock awards were up in a year when Yahoo shares appreciated 103%. Her package: $1M salary, $2,250 bonus (only because she’s a co-inventor on some pending patents), $8.3M in stock awards, $13.8M in option awards, $1.7M in non equity incentives, and $73,863 in other compensation. The “other” category includes $50,000 for security (not including the protection she receives at work and on business travel), and $18,248 to reimburse for attorney fees. Yahoo says that twice last year family members and guests joined Mayer on the company plane during a business trip. It didn’t include that in her compensation “because we leased the entire aircraft and were not charged based on the number of passengers.” The board said that Mayer “revitalized the Company’s employee base, continued to build her leadership team, increased the pace of product innovation and refreshes, spearheaded the acquisition of Tumblr, and attracted new customers and increased traffic.” Former COO Henrique de Castro, who was bounced in January, didn’t receive a bonus “because the Compensation Committee believed that he did not meet the performance standards necessary to receive an annual bonus for 2013,” the proxy says. Still, Mayer’s former pal was … Read More »

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Google Shares Slip After Q1 Earnings Fall Short Of Analyst Forecasts

By | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 4:07pm EDT

new-google-logo-o__130307101539-275x91__140303154259__140313225345__140314223805The stock is down about 5.6% in post market trading on the disappointing results, which include a 9% year over year drop in the average cost per click. The search giant reported net income of $3.45B, +3.2% vs the first three months of 2013, on revenues of $15.42B, +19.1%. If you factor out the impact from the sale of the Motorola Mobile business to Lenovo Group then earnings per share would have come in at $6.27, below the $6.33 that the Street anticipated. Revenues also were lower than the $15.51B analysts expected. Google says that revenues from its sites improved 21% to $10.47B while partner sites were +4% to $3.4B. But revenue costs, primarily for the data centers, jumped 25.8% to $2.73B while operating expenses were +31.2% to $5.34B. Per usual, CEO Larry Page had little to say in the company release: He noted that “We got lots of product improvements done, especially on mobile. I’m also excited with progress on our emerging businesses.”

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The ABCs Of Aereo: What Is Aereo And Why Are Broadcasters Taking It To The Supreme Court?

By and | Wednesday April 16, 2014 @ 1:01pm EDT

Editors Note: The first of three Deadline posts that lay out the issues in the Aereo case, which Deadline Legal Editor Dominic Patten will cover from the Supreme Court next week. Today: A primer about Aereo and what’s at stake in the dispute with broadcasters.

U.S. Supreme Court justices are so mistrustful of technology that they bar TV cameras from their proceedings and require visitors to check their smartphones at the door.What Is Aereo But on April 22 they will take an hour to hear arguments in a case that could re-shape television and the Internet. All of the major broadcast companies are challenging the legality of an upstart streaming service: Aereo, a company backed by IAC chief Barry Diller that began to sign up subscribers in New York City in February 2012. The issues both sides will raise are complicated. But the controversy boils down to an important question: What rights do broadcasters and citizens have to content on the publicly owned airwaves?

Related: It’s On! – Supreme Court Agrees To Hear Aereo Case

Q: How does Aereo work?
A: Subscribers in the cities Aereo serves pay a minimum of $8 a month. That gives them exclusive access to one of its thousands of dime-sized antennas that pick up free, local, over-the-air broadcasts. The company then streams the live programming in the same local market to subscribers’ Web-connected TVs, computers, or mobile devices.

Aereo info graphic

Q: Does it just stream live TV?
A: Aereo also offers a remote storage DVR. Just like with a home DVR, each customer can choose programs to record, and then watch later with the same fast-forward and rewind capabilities. The difference is that the digital files are kept on Aereo’s servers, not on a hard drive in the home. Those who pay $8 per month get 20 hours of DVR storage each month and access to one antenna, while those paying $12 get 60 hours and access to two antennas.

Aereo mapQ: Where can people subscribe?
A: Aereo began in New York, and now also is available in Boston, Atlanta, Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Dallas, Austin, Houston, Miami, and San Antonio. It plans to launch in cities including Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Kansas City.

Q: Why does that bother broadcasters?
A: Aereo doesn’t pay local TV stations when it streams their programming. Broadcasters say that infringes on their copyrights. Read More »

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Peter Liguori To Leave Yahoo Board

By | Friday April 11, 2014 @ 6:40pm EDT

Peter LiguoriThis little item popped up in the Friday data dump of filings at the SEC. The Tribune CEO told Yahoo that he won’t seek re-election at the next annual meeting, when his term expires. Peter Liguori, formerly a honcho at Fox and Discovery, joined the board in 2012. Yahoo had hoped that the appointment of an independent director would help to derail a planned proxy fight by Third Point’s Daniel Loeb who said, among other things, that the company was underperforming in part because directors were too closely aligned with management. That plan didn’t work, though the company and Loeb finally made peace after it hired Marissa Mayer to be CEO. (Loeb is an investor in Variety with Deadline’s parent company, PMC.) Last year, Liguori also left the MGM board.

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Aereo Says Its Service Will Be Ready For Google’s Chromecast On May 29

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 3:36pm EDT

Watching TV broadcasts on a television set? What will they think of next? ChromecastWell, facetiousness aside, this may be one of the easiest and cheapest ways for people in markets served by Aereo — who don’t want to attach an antenna to their TVs — to access local TV broadcasts. It’s a meaningful development for Aereo: Google’s $35 Chromecast streaming devices have been a hit with consumers. Aereo-logo__130126232434-200x206__131008001115__131212200214__140110201424__140211193750They use smartphones or tablets to remotely control the thumb-sized unit that plugs into a TV set’s HDMI port, and picks up streaming video via WiFi. Beginning May 29, Aereo customers who use Chromecast can download or update their Aereo app, and they’ll be ready to go. “Consumers deserve more options and alternatives in how they watch television and our team is committed to providing consumers with the best experience possible using Aereo’s innovative cloud technology,” says CEO Chet Kanojia. His service will be ready for Chromecast at the same time U.S. Supreme Court justices will be deliberating whether Aereo is legal. Major broadcasters have asked the high court to rule that the service infringes on their copyrights; Aereo streams their over-the-air programming in their local markets, but doesn’t pay. The company says that it simply leases subscribers an antenna similar to what they could install at home to watch free TV.

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Tribeca Film Festival Jurors Announced

Tribeca 2014 marqueeThe judges are set for 13th annual edition of the event founded by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff. The seven competition juries for the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival include 33 filmmakers, writers, producers, actors, journalists and entrepreneurs. The World Narrative Competition judges are Lake Bell, Steve Conrad, Bart Freundlich, Catherine Hardwicke and Ben Younger. Jurors for other categories include Toni Collette, Whoopi Goldberg, Jeff Goldblum, Alfonso Arau, Heather Graham, Anton Yelchin, HBO’s Sheila Nevins and Google’s Regina Dugan. The Nas rap docu Time Is Illmatic will open the fest, which runs April 16-27 in NYC. The recently re-retitled Begin Again closes it. Here is the full list of jurors and categories:

Related:
Tribeca Film Festival Unveils Competition Slate
MSG Entering Into Strategic Deal With Tribeca Enterprises

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Comcast Sets Stage For Testy Senate Hearing, Telling FCC That Time Warner Cable Acquisition Serves Public

By | Tuesday April 8, 2014 @ 11:09am EDT

Comcast Time Warner Cable logos

UPDATE, 10:06 AM: Comcast EVP David Cohen just fleshed out in a press call some of his company’s arguments for the Time Warner Cable deal. To those who say the combined company would be too big he says that “in this particular case we think big is good” — it would be better able to offer new and improved services. And if Comcast is wrong “it doesn’t make any difference really because, as a customer, you’ll have the exact number of choices as you had before the transaction.” The only change: With Comcast instead of TWC as a broadband or video provider consumers’ “choice will be better.” He adds that Comcast is focused “like a laser” on improving the customer experience. (Sound familiar?)

PREVIOUS, 8:09 AM: This is the kind of thing you’d expect the cable giant to assert in a regulatory filing — and that will be roundly contested, including tomorrow at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the $45.2B deal. Content companies that might oppose the deal “have strong relationships” with the committee, which oversees copyright matters, Guggenheim Securities’ Paul Gallant says. What’s more, the committee includes two strong critics of media consolidation: Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).

SenateJudiciaryCommitteeComcast detailed its public interest arguments in a 175-page document delivered to the FCC this morning. It “lays out in considerable detail how Comcast and TWC are better together for millions of customers and businesses, describing the exciting enhanced services and other concrete consumer benefits that will be available because of the transaction,” Comcast EVP David Cohen says in a blog post. In addition to cable and Internet services, Comcast owns NBCUniversal.

The company indirectly takes issue with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ claim that Comcast imposed an “indirect tax” on the streaming video company in a recent deal: Netflix agreed to pay Comcast directly to access its broadband lines in a way that will deliver the best possible transmissions to its customers. Comcast says it has “no economic incentive” to hit up so-called edge providers because its customers “place a high premium on being able to access any Internet content they want.” Comcast would have about 30M broadband customers after acquiring TWC. Read More »

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Shorty Awards Winners Announced

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 8:52pm PDT

Jerry Seinfeld, Aaron Paul and Batkid were among the big winners tonight as the 6th annual Shorty Awards for the best in social media were handed out in New York. The trophy show, which this year added a category for best Vine video, honors various online video, business, entertainment, journalism and social-media stars. Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee was voted best web show, while Paul was tapped as favorite actor Parks And Recreation‘s Retta took the actress prize. Other winners included Patton Oswalt, Paul Feig and Cosmos host Neil deGrasse Tyson. Will Ferrell picked up the Lifetime Achievement Award. Here’s Seinfeld’s taped acceptance speech. The full list of winners is after the jump:

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‘Game Of Thrones’ Season 4 Premiere Hits New High, ‘Silicon Valley’ Debuts Strong, ‘Veep’ Returns Down

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 12:17pm PDT

game of thrones season 4 debut 2With swords in hand and palace intrigue in the shadows, HBO’s Game Of Thrones was back for its fourth season last night with a record-breaking 6.6 million viewers. That’s up 52% over the 4.4 million who tuned in for the Season 3 debut on March 31, 2013 – no wonder GoT crashed HBO Go last night. Sunday’s viewership result is not only the most watched GoT episode ever but is the second-best result HBO has seen since the 11.9 million who watched the series finale of The Sopranos back in 2007. The Season 4 opener also soared 23% up from the 5.4 million viewers the Season 3 finale drew on June 9. Until last night, the most-watched GoT episode ever was the May 5, 2013, airing that pulled in an audience of 5.5 million. With two more plays last night, GoT had a gross audience of 8.2 million on Sunday.

Related: ‘Game Of Thrones’ Gets “Welcome Back” From ‘House Of Cards’

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Media Stocks Pulled Down As Investors Unload Tech Holdings

By | Friday April 4, 2014 @ 4:17pm EDT

Stock arrow downThe tech-heavy NASDAQ fell 2.6% today, apparently reflecting fears that many companies — after soaring in 2013 — will report disappointing info on Q1 sales. The concern has been building: Netflix, for example, is down 25.7% over the past month. But it seemed to spread today, and soured the rest of the market with the Standard & Poor’s 500 -1.3% and the Dow Jones U.S. Media Index -1.7%. Viacom, down 2.8%, was the hardest hit Big Media company followed by Fox (-2.6%), Comcast (-1.8%), CBS (-1.7%), Disney (-1.5%), Discovery (-0.8%), Time Warner (-0.4%), and Sony (-0.3%). News Corp was the only gainer in the group, rising 0.1%. In the broader media universe, Barnes & Noble fell 5.4% — for an 18% drop in the two days since Liberty Media said it will sell 90% of its holdings in the book retailer. Tech-oriented media companies followed including Netflix (-4.9%), Pandora (-4.9%), Google (-4.7%), Facebook (-4.6%), Yahoo (-4.2%), RealD (-4%), and Amazon (-3.2%). Only a few media stocks appreciated. They include Madison Square Garden (+0.4%), which sold its Fuse TV network, and Scripps Networks (+0.5%) after Wunderlich Securities’ Matthew Harrigan changed his recommendation to “buy” from “hold.”

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Aereo Attracts Support From Dish Network, EFF & More For SCOTUS Hearing

By and | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 4:55pm PDT

Aereo-logo__130126232434-200x206__131008001115__131212200214__140110201424__140211193750With less than three weeks before Aereo argues its case in front of the Supreme Court, amicus briefs today supporting the subscription streaming service in its battle against the broadcasters were being filed fast and furiously. Supporters of the Barry Diller-backed company have until 11:59 PM ET to add their voices to the cause. On the plaintiff’s side, SAG-AFTRA, Viacom, Time Warner and Warner Bros Entertainment, the NFL and MLB are among those who have come out against Aereo. Add to that, the Obama administration filed a brief of its own supporting the broadcasters and a motion to argue during supremecourtthe 1-hour April 22 hearing before the High Court. Today’s briefs from Dish Network, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Cable Association and more come less than a week after Aereo firmly responded to the broadcaster’s February 24 brief and the same day Diller said that Aereo could be “finished” if it loses before the SCOTUS. More briefs are expected throughout the evening — we’ll update as more come in. Here are a few highlights from ones submitted so far today:

Dish Network
Chairman Charlie Ergen has good reason to support Aereo. He, too, butted heads with broadcasters who objected to his Hopper DVR’s ability to automatically jump over their ads in recorded shows. He also owns Sling, a device that streams users’ live and recorded TV programs. “Aereo is in some ways novel, but it is also among a host of technologies that uses the Internet to offer consumers the ability to do what they always have more cheaply and conveniently,” Dish says in its brief. The technology, and others including Dish’s, “are like dumbwaiters, incapable of delivering a pail of water without the thirsty person tugging on ropes and pulleys. If an individual uses that dumbwaiter to fetch himself a video he recorded of Breaking Bad, the dumbwaiter manufacturer does not infringe a copyright in the show.” Read More »

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Science Channel & Discovery Channel To Broadcast Live Moon Landing

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 9:26am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

XPrize Moon LandingThe wave of video-documented big live stunts triggered by Felix Baumgartner’s space jump continues. Science Channel and Discovery Channel are teaming for an “Apollo Moment” for the millennial generation, televising a live moon landing. The networks have announced that they will be TV partners for Google Lunar XPRIZE, a $30 million competition for privately funded teams to land an unmanned craft on the moon by December 31, 2015. The networks will air a miniseries that will follow teams from around the world as they race to fulfill the mission requirements: to land a craft on the surface of the moon, travel 500 meters, and transmit live pictures and video back to Earth. That includes testing, lift-off, and live coverage of the winning lunar landing, which is estimated to take place in 2015. “More than half the world’s population has never had the opportunity to experience a live broadcast from the moon,” said Robert K. Weiss, vice chairman and president of XPRIZE. “Partnering with Discovery Channel and Science Channel will allow us to engage the public around this milestone event, creating an ‘Apollo Moment’ for the next generation.” Discovery’s live event specials include Nik Wallenda’s Skywire and the upcoming Everest Jump Live. Meanwhile, there are two reality series in the works that follow mission to colonize Mars.

Related: … Read More »

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Amazon Introduces $99 Streaming Device: Amazon Fire TV

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 12:23pm EDT

Amazon Fire TVHere’s Amazon‘s long-awaited answer to Apple TV — and other streaming devices including Google’s Chromecast and Roku TV. It’s a lot more expensive than the $35 Chromecast, but Amazon says that its Amazon Fire TV packs better technology and offers access to more services — including access to Amazon Instant Video, Netflix Showtime Anytime, Hulu Plus, and WatchESPN (but not HBO GO) — as well as potentially thousands of games. The Fire comes with 2GB of memory,  a quad core processor, and Amazon logodual band Wi-Fi. CEO Jeff Bezos boasts that the voice search feature “actually works” which means “no more typing on an alphabet grid.” The remote control works even if it isn’t pointed directly at the device. And for those who have state-of-the-art home theaters, it outputs 1080p HD video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. As you might expect from a data-driven company, Amazon Fire has a feature that tries to predict the movies and TV shows you’ll want, and buffers them so they’re ready when you are. It also offers the company’s X-Ray service that enables users to see info about movies, TV shows and music (including lyrics for karaoke fans) — but not its full array of retail products. It syncs with the Amazon Cloud Drive so users can access their personal photos and videos.

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Google Escapes $127M Fines Over Controversial ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ Video

By | Tuesday April 1, 2014 @ 9:53am PDT

DJP LEGAL BADGEThey haven’t gotten a chance to have the case reheard yet but Google has dodged a financial bullet in the seemingly never ending matter of the anti-Islam film Innocence Of Muslims. Late last night, the 9th Circuit succinctly rejected an emergency motion from actress Cindy Lee Garcia last week seeking more than $127 million in penalties against the tech giant for not complying with a surprising February 26 court order to take down the controversial video. “Appellant’s emergency contempt motion is denied,” ordered a 3-Judge panel on March 31 (read it here) in response new-google-logo-o__130307101539-275x91__140303154259__140313225345__140314223805to Garcia’s March 25 filing. Google, according to Garcia, is taking its time taking down the inflammatory 2012 14-minute video and even going so far as asking the actress to provide them with “each and every individual URL” that’s still on the tech company’s platform. One of the places the video was still available, according to Garcia, was Egypt – the nation where the actress received an execution threat for her brief appearance in Innocence. Google has long argued that Garcia had no copyright claim on the video, which she appears for 5 seconds, and to take it down is an affront to free speech.

Related: Google Takes Another Hit In ‘Innocence Of Muslims’ Appeal
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Yahoo Weighs $300M Acquisition Of News Distribution Network: Report

By | Monday March 31, 2014 @ 6:05pm EDT

Yahoo_logonewThis would be an interesting move for Yahoo if what The Wall Street Journal refers to as “preliminary talks” to buy NDN bear fruit. NDN syndicates videos from TV stations and other producers to online services for newspapers and news services including the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Daily News, and Bloomberg. NDN says it’s the No. 5 online video platform, with more than 49M unique monthly viewers. Backers include Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s TomorrowVentures, actor Bill Murray and baseball legend Reggie Jackson. On the surface, it looks like a perfect puzzle piece for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in her effort to turn her company into an online video power, drawing ad revenues from TV among other sources. But will a deal take place? The paper includes the usual caveats that talks are “still early and a deal may not be reached for several weeks or may fall apart.” Still, it must be confident about its information, attributed to “two people who have been briefed on the matter and asked to not be named.” It quotes an NDN rep who straight-out denies talks are taking place.

Related: Yahoo Shares Fall Despite Stronger-Than-Expected Q4

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Machinima Names Former Ovation TV Exec Chad Gutstein New CEO

By | Monday March 31, 2014 @ 10:35am PDT

machinimaChad Gutstein, formerly COO at the Ovation television network, has been tapped as CEO at Machinima, the latest move as the online video service revamps itself as a player in original content. Gutstein will spearhead Machinima’s network and brand strategy and oversee programming, sales, marketing, strategic partnerships, product development, and diversification of distribution and revenue. At Ovation, Gutstein grew the arts network’s reach to nearly 55 million households from 5M, booting its original programming plans significantly last fall after Ovation was dropped by Time Warner Cable at the end of 2012 in an effort to control costs. “Machinima is ready for the next level, and Chad has all of the unique qualities we were seeking in a new CEO to bring us there,” said Machinima co-founder and chairman Allen DeBevoise in a release today announcing the hire. “His fresh and respected outlook, deep knowledge of the TV and digital business, and proven track record will all benefit Machinima as we enter our next phase of growth. Chad’s most recent experience building Ovation’s brand and audience, and translating the value of its audience and programming to TV distributors and tier one advertisers, will help Machinima exponentially accelerate its mission.”

Machinima axed 30% of its work force earlier this month and soon after named ex-Fox Networks boss Tony Vinciquerra to its Board of Directors, the body to which Gutstein will report. Machinima also recently raised $67M in financing from the likes of Warner Bros (which led funding with $18M), Google Capital and Redpoint Ventures as the service looks to find ways to make money outside of its partnership with YouTube, which takes about 45% of the ad revenue it sells. Read More »

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CinemaCon: AMC Entertainment CEO Gerry Lopez On Discount Nights, Texting, And Why You Can’t Buy Tickets On Amazon

By | Friday March 28, 2014 @ 12:47pm EDT

Gerry-Lopez__140328162550Per usual, Hollywood studios dominated the spotlight this week at the exhibition industry’s annual CinemaCon confab. But AMC Entertainment CEO Gerry Lopez was the star of many private conversations about the future of the theater business. It isn’t just because the former Starbucks exec runs the second largest chain, with about 5,000 screens in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, Hong Kong and the UK. Execs are closely monitoring Lopez’ two-year-old initiative to reduce the number of seats in many AMC theaters to make room for luxurious recliners — which come with a higher ticket price. It’s an adventurous departure in a business that typically tries to pack as many people as possible into venues.

Lopez also seems to enjoy speaking his mind, a rarityCinemaCon2014_badge in exhibition where leaders tend to be private and circumspect. He has a good story to tell: AMC’s owner, China’s Wanda Group, offered a 22% stake to the public in December, and the shares since then have appreciated 26.4% — well ahead of other major theater chains and the overall market. I caught up to him at this week’s CinemaCon. Here are his thoughts, edited for length and clarity, on a few of the industry’s front burner issues.

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